Moscow; Leningrad: Gos. izd-vo, 1927. 184,  pp., 8 ill.: ill. 23.5x15 cm. Contemporary boards with a large piece of the original front cover mounted on the front board. Boards slightly rubbed and soiled, occasional notes in text (pencil), faded ink stamp on the t.p., restoration of the upper right corner of the t.p. Otherwise good.
Scarce. First edition. 1 of 4,000 copies.
ONE OF THE FIRST SOVIET STUDIES OF THE RUSSIAN CARNIVAL PUPPET THEATRE PETRUSHKA.
Evidence concerning the existence of Petrushka, the comic hero of the Russian puppet theatre, dates back to the 17th century, when the scholar Adam Olearius, while touring Russia, made a drawing of a portable puppet booth. In the 19th century, Petrushka emerged as the most popular type of puppet theatre in Russia and became an integral part of almost every public gathering and festivity. After the 1917 October Revolution, Bolsheviks quickly realized the agitational character of Petrushka and used the puppet as an effective propaganda tool in clubs, schools, and theatres (most notably Leningrad TYUZ).
This book, written by the famous Soviet literary and art critic Orest Tsekhnovitser (1899-1941) and Igor Eremin, serves as the first comprehensive Soviet study of the Petrushka theatre. Printed in 1927, the edition opens with an introductory letter in which the authors define the main goal of the publication: to help directors of the artistic department of city clubs and schools, as well as organizers of professional children’s puppet theaters in the organization of the Petrushka theater. The book consists of two main sections: Petrushka Theatre and Anthology. The former features three articles: The History of Folk Puppet Theater in Asia and Europe; Russian Folk Puppet Theater; and Petrushka Theatre. While the first two articles trace the origins of Petrushka theatre both in Russia (from XVII to XX century) and abroad, the third article features methodological instructions and introduces the methods of organizing a puppet theater. For maximum effect, the authors recommend enhancing the involvement of children in the production of Petrushka and offer to deepen their interest through a number of tricks, including using the puppets to personify the kids themselves or teachers. The Anthology part comprises the text of the English folk puppet comedy Punch and Judy (translated by Tsekhnovitser) and three Soviet comedies about Petrushka: Khlop v lop [i.e. Clap on the Forehead] by Leo Miryanin (1924), Znakharstvo - debri t’my [i.e. Witchcraft - Wilds of Darkness] by Mikhail Utenkov (1924), Predstavleniye lyubitel’skoye pro delo potrebitel’skoye, pro Nyurku, kuptsa i prikazchika, veselogo Petrushku-rasskazchika [i.e. An amateur performance about a consumer business, about Nyurka, a merchant and a clerk, a cheerful Petrushka the storyteller] by Mikhail Volpin (1925). In regards to the themes of the Soviet plays, the authors selected one text from the history of the October Revolution, another - a cooperative and a third - sanitary and educational.
The edition includes 8 unique black-and-white illustrations showing puppets of contemporary Petrushka from the collection of the famous Russian actor and director Evgeniy Demmeni and I. Slutskiy: Petrushka - Red Army soldier, Merchant, Merchant’s wife, Pope, Bourgeois, Peasant woman, Policeman, and Homeless. The illustrations were created by the artist O. N. Afanasieva. In-text illustrations depicting the performance of puppeteers in Russia in XVII century, puppet performances Mass i Moritz [i.e. Max and Moritz] and Negritenok Tom [i.e. Negro Tom] at Leningrad TYUZ, etc.
Overall, an extremely rare first comprehensive Soviet study of the Petrushka theatre.
By the 1930s, the Petrushka Comedy gradually degenerated, along with other forms of traditional folk culture and was not revived until for more than 70 years.
Orest Tsekhnovitser was a Soviet literary critic and theater critic, writer, and publicist. After finishing his studies at the Pskov Sergievsky real school (1910-1916), Tsekhnovitser entered the Faculty of History and Philology of Novorossiysk University in 1917. Professor of modern Russian and Western literature at Leningrad University (1938), Orest is mainly recognized as the author of Teatr Petrushki.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University, Columbia University Libraries, New York Public Library System, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.